Dog handlers who have set up a successful flyball team have been awarded European funding to help establish their club and attract more members.

The cash has been given from a Community Chest to the Teesdale team based at Barnard Castle, Co Durham, which has already qualified for Crufts next year.

Team captain Carol Bartle said yesterday that the Euro money plus cash raised by the members through various events will ensure the club's future.

She added, "It is a really good sport which keeps you very fit and keeps your dog in really good shape. And it is also very good fun for everyone."

The team, set up by flyball enthusiasts who used to be known as the Bombers, competes under the auspices of Peterlee Dog Club at the moment, but is applying to the Kennel Club for its own registration.

It meets at the Norwood Equestrian Centre behind the Bridge Inn at Ramshaw at 6pm on Thursdays, but will change to Sundays at 2pm next month.

The team has also received a donation from John Miller of Shildon Motor Company and sponsorship from Boehringer, a company which makes veterinary products for dogs.

Ms Bartle said, "We will welcome some more dogs and their handlers. It is suitable for any size and breed of dog, though they mustn't be aggressive."

The dogs have to hit a pedal to release a ball which they catch in their mouths before scampering over hurdles in a type of relay race. There are four in each team along with two reserves.

Any dog owner wishing to join can contact Ms Bartle on 01325-730527. d.